Philadelphia Distracted Driving Lawyer
Since the advent of cell phones, GPS navigation systems, and other similar portable electronic devices, the number of automobile accidents caused by distracted driving has steadily risen. In many of these cases, the distracted drivers who caused the accidents were texting or making cell phone calls while operating motor vehicles.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident that resulted from the carelessness or negligence of a distracted driver, the lawyers at The Levin Firm may assist with your case and pursue monetary compensation on your behalf.
Distracted Driving Laws And Statistics
Distracted driving is a significant public health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted drivers injure more than 1,600 people every day. Though cell phones do not cause all driver distractions, with the increasing popularity and accessibility of cell phones and other personal electronic devices, many observers expect distracted driving problems to continue to grow. To combat this issue, many states, including Pennsylvania, have passed legislation limiting or even banning the use of certain types of devices while driving.
If you suspect that a distracted driver caused your injury, have an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney review your case to determine whether you have a valid claim.
Federal Distracted Driving Laws For Commercial Vehicle Drivers
Federal law bans commercial vehicle drivers from texting or using cell phones while driving. Offending drivers may subject themselves to fines of $2,750. Multiple texting while driving convictions can result in a driver’s disqualification by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Commercial vehicles include large trucks as well as tractor-trailers. Because of their large sizes and fast speeds, these vehicles have more potential to cause serious motor vehicle accidents and devastating injuries when their drivers behave in careless, reckless, or distracted ways. When commercial vehicle drivers violate the law, truckers and their employers can often face liability for the severe injuries they cause.
Common Forms Of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can take many forms. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) classifies three main types of driver distractions:
- Visual – Visual distractions occur when drivers take their eyes off the road for any reason.
- Manual – Manual distractions occur when drivers take their hands off their steering wheels.
- Cognitive – Cognitive distractions occur when drivers allow their minds to wander or become preoccupied with something other than driving.
Some driver distractions can involve two or even all three kinds of distractions, making them particularly dangerous. For example, a person who text messages while driving is likely looking at a phone (a visual distraction), manipulating the screen or keypad (a manual distraction), and thinking about composing the text (a cognitive distraction).
Given the level of distraction that texting creates, an unsurprising study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) indicated that texting while driving can raise a driver’s crash risk by 23 times. While studies have shown that texting is particularly dangerous, many other potential driver distractions could result in accidents. These include:
- Talking on the phone
- Using a GPS device
- Adjusting the radio
- Applying makeup
- Talking to a passenger
- Looking at scenery
- Listening to podcasts, loud music, or audiobooks
Kids And Distracted Driving Accidents
In addition to artificial distractions in the car, such as cell phones or loud music, children may also cause or contribute to distracted driving accidents in one or more of the following ways:
- Misbehaving or roughhousing – When children are present in the backseat of a motor vehicle—and particularly in cases where they are roughhousing or misbehaving—the driver must physically turn around and focus attention on disciplining the children. Obviously, this diverts the driver’s attention away from the road and can lead to a serious accident.
- Conversations with children – In cases where a driving parent is trying to calm down an upset or crying child, or where a parent is trying to help a child find a lost item or toy in the car, the parent’s attention is similarly diverted away from the road, significantly increasing the chances of an accident.
Another adult in the car who can respond to children’s needs can sometimes reduce these distractions. Consequently, the driving adult can pay closer attention to the roadway.
Applicable Statute Of Limitations In Distracted Driving Cases
Under the laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in most circumstances, an injured car accident victim only has two years from the date of the accident/injury to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Absent some extremely limited exceptions, if a claim or lawsuit is not filed within that period, the injured accident victim will forever lose the right to seek monetary compensation for injuries and damages sustained as a result of the distracted driving accident.
Time is of the essence, so contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible after sustaining injuries in a car accident.
Proving Distracted Driving In Pennsylvania And New Jersey Car Accident Cases
Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws prohibit texting while driving. When a driver acts carelessly, recklessly, or negligently while operating a motor vehicle on the roadway, such as by using a cell phone or texting while driving, and a car accident results, then that driver may face responsibility for the resulting injuries and damages.
In personal injury cases, including distracted driving cases, the injured plaintiff always has the burden of proving negligence on the part of the at-fault driver.To prove negligence in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a distracted driver, the injured accident victim must prove the following:
- Duty – When operating a motor vehicle, a driver owes everyone else on the roadway a duty to drive in a reasonably careful and prudent manner. In distracted driving cases, drivers are held to the standard of care of a “reasonable person” who operates a motor vehicle under the same or similar circumstances.
- Violation of the applicable duty of care – This means that the driver must have breached the applicable duty of care, such as by turning one’s attention from the roadway, thereby bringing about the accident.
- Cause – The injured plaintiff must show that the distracted driver’s breach of the standard of care caused the accident victim’s injuries and damages.
- Damages – Damages in Pennsylvania and New Jersey distracted driving cases may consist of both economic and non-economic damages.
Potential Damages In Distracted Driving Car Accident Cases
Damages sustained in distracted driving car accident cases may include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages usually include the injured accident victim’s medical bills and lost wages, such as time missed from work. On the other hand, non-economic damages are much more subjective and defy exact measurement. Available non-economic damages sustained in distracted driving accident cases may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost earning capacity
- Permanent damages
- Psychological or psychiatric harm
- Loss of consortium, including spousal companionship and support
Dealing With Insurance Companies After A Distracted Driving Accident
In a distracted driving negligence case, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not representing your interests and is not on your side. Insurance companies, above all, are businesses, and their primary goal is to make money. Insurance companies do not make money by paying out personal injury settlements and jury verdicts. Consequently, if the insurance company has offered you money to settle your case, you should always first speak with a knowledgeable motor-vehicle accident lawyer before accepting the offer.
Contact A Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Today For A Free Consultation
Distracted driving can cause accidents and serious injuries, which in turn can lead to significant medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering, among other losses. Fortunately, victims may recover compensation for these and other damages by bringing personal injury claims against the responsible party or parties. The best way to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve is to retain the services of an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
Attorney Gabriel Levin is a seasoned personal injury lawyer who is dedicated to holding distracted drivers responsible for the injuries they cause. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Levin, please call our office today at (215) 825-5183 or fill out the contact form available on the bottom-right side of this page.